A list that is headlined with the names of Matt Rotheram, John Crockett and Ladarius Gunter, the Green Bay Packers undrafted free agent class contains players with a national reputation and a decent shot at making the team, along with the unheard of names from unheard of schools. On Friday, the opening day of rookie minicamp,the Packers officially announced the list of 17 players who have been signed to UDFA contracts.
We expect to get the full list of tryout players later today as well. Until then, here's a look at each of the 17 signees.
Javess Blue, Wide Receiver, Kentucky - 6'0'' 188 lbs. (#10)
After receiving all-state honors in Florida, Blue attended Butler Community College where he led team in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. He was ranked the 14th best JUCO player by ESPN and made an immediate impact at UK as the top Wildcat receiver in 2013 with 43 catches for 586 yards and 4 touchdowns. He had a similar season in 2014 finishing with 29 receptions, 525 yards, and 5 touchdowns, one of them being this one:
Ricky Collins, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M Commerce - 6'0'' 198 lbs. (#13)
Collins bounced around from junior colleges to Division II schools after being recruited out of high school. He was named to the First-Team All-District team as well as the All-East Texas team. He played his first season at Kilgore Junior College where he caught 50 passes for 571 yards and 6 touchdowns, and was named to the elite All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference First Team. Collins was rated as the 33rd-best JUCO receiver and then played one season at Midwestern State before finally ending up at Texas A&M commerce. In 2014 he caught 71 passes for 1,187 yards and 14 touchdowns, numbers that could win national awards at the Division I level. If those numbers can translate at all into the NFL, a relatively unknown player could make a name for himself come the start of camp.
Adrian Coxson, Wide Receiver, Stony Brook - 6'1'' 209 lbs. (#1)
One of the relatively unknown Packers signings, Coxson started his career at the University of Florida, where he then transferred to the University of Maryland before finally winding up at Stony Brook. The former Seawolf started in 11 out of 12 games and posted 43 catches for 663 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2014. He earned third team All-CAA honors in 2014 and an opportunity to make a Packers roster that is already very talented at his position. His one quality that makes him standout, however, is his insane speed. Coxson ran a 4.3 40 yard dash, and will most likely need to rely on that to remain on the roster come fall.
John Crockett, Running Back, North Dakota State - 6'0'' 217 lbs. (#38)
Crockett is one of the more well-known names in this years undrafted class, putting together three straight seasons of 1,000+ rushing yards in a row for the Bison. A First-Team Minnesota All-State and finalist for Minnesota's Mr. Football, Crockett signed with an elite FCS program in the country at North Dakota State University. He had an explosive start to his career as a sophomore, putting together the first of his 1,000+ yard seasons with 194 carries for 1,038 yards and 9 touchdowns, as well as being named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Newcomer Team. His junior year he played in 15 games for the Bison, taking the ball 190 times for 1,277 yards and 11 touchdowns. Crockett took over in 2014, setting school records for all-purpose yards, rushing yards, and rushing attempts. He ran for 1,994 yards and 21 touchdowns as he was named to the Sports Network All America second team and All Missouri Valley Football Conference second team. With numbers like those, it's a little bit of a surprise to see him not drafted late in the draft, but regardless he will compete for the third running back spot on the Packers' depth chart.
Fabbians Ebbele, Tackle, Arizona - 6'8'' 315 lbs. (#68)
A massive player, Ebbele was named to the First Team All-Public team and Chicagoland All-Area Top 100 before signing with the Wildcats. He redshirted in 2010 and was a full-time starter at right tackle from 2011-2013. As a freshman in 2011, he received Freshman All-America Honors by The Sporting News as a part of a very potent offense that put up 465 yards and 30 points per game. In 2013, again he was part of another explosive offense attack that averaged 264.9 rushing yards per game and allowed only 1.31 sacks per game. Ebbele definitely has the size to make an NFL roster, but will need to work on his fundamentals if he is to make an impression this summer.
Alonzo Harris, Running Back, Louisiana-Lafayette - 6'1'' 237 lbs. (#46)
A first team Alabama All-State selection and Top 30 prospect out of Alabama by Rivals, Harris made an immediate impact for the Ragin' Cajuns rushing for 700 yards and 8 touchdowns, earning himself the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year honor. He followed that up with another impressive sophomore season putting up 881 yards and 10 touchdowns, and his junior and senior year remained consistent as he rushed for 14 and 12 touchdowns respectively.
Mitchell Henry, Tight End, Western Kentucky - 6'4'' 252 lbs. (#85)
Out of high school, Henry was honorable mention All-State and First Team All-District, and signed with WKU as the 44th best tight end by ESPN. Henry did not step into the starting role at tight end until his senior year, racking up 13 starts in his first three years. Over his career at WKU, he totaled 78 receptions for 1,094 yards and 12 touchdowns as a primary passing target.
Jimmie Hunt, Wide Receiver, Missouri - 6'0'' 208 lbs. (#82)
Rated the 23rd best safety prospect and the 43rd best receiver prospect out of high school, Hunt redshirted in 2010 and only made 1 catch in 2011, that catch resulting in a 54 yard touchdown. He really made an impact in the Mizzou offense in 2014 when he finished with 40 receptions for 698 yards and 7 touchdowns. As another receiver on a team loaded with talent at the position, Hunt will have to show his big playmaking ability to earn a spot.
Larry Pinkard, Wide Receiver, Old Dominion - 6'0'' 196 lbs. (#11)
A second team All-Met and All-District DCIAA receiver out of the Washington D.C. area, Pinkard started every game from mid-2011 through the 2013 season for the Monarchs. His junior season, he led the team with 68 receptions for 1,020 yards and nine touchdowns, setting marks for the 2nd most receptions in a single season and becoming only the 2nd player in Old Dominion history to record 1,000 receiving yards. Impressive stats were overlooked as Pinkard was dismissed from the team before the start of his senior season for a violation of team rules.
Marcus Reed, Guard, Fayetteville State - 6'5'' 345 lbs. (#62)
Another massive player vying for a spot on the front line, Reed started his collegiate career at Kilgore Junior College where he played his first two seasons, and then was offered a scholarship to play for the Broncos. He redshirted his first season and then started seven games as a junior. In 2014 he started 8 games at both tackle and guard, claiming All-CIAA honors. His size is not something to be overlooked as rookie mini-camp opens up.
Matt Rotheram, Guard, Pittsburgh - 6'6'' 325 lbs. (#74)
Before signing with Pitt, Rotheram was a decorated high school player and was rated one of the top 30 offensive guard prospects by Rivals and Scout, as well as the number 27 overall prospect in Ohio. After redshirting his freshman year, Rotherham played in 8 games (starting 2) in 2011, and followed that up by starting every game for the Panthers from 2012-2014, both at tackle and guard. 2014 was Rotherham's statement season, being named to the second team All-ACC squad. He started in 40 games in his career and was a fixture on the Pitt offensive line in a run heavy scheme. His ability to play multiple positions on the line boosts his odds for making the cut.
Bernard Blake, Cornerback, Colorado State - 5'11'' 178 lbs. (#35)
Blake was not much of a difference maker his first couple years at CSU, redshirting in 2010, playing in a reserve role in 2011, and only starting 5 games in 2012, recording 24 tackles and 3 pass breakups. His junior year was his breakout season as he started 9 games, making 64 tackles, 12 pass breakups, and 1 interception that came off of A.J. McCarron of Alabama. Blake had a letdown senior year in 2014 compared to his stellar junior season, only recording 38 tackles, 11 pass break-ups, and 1 pick. He comes into camp in an already newcomer-heavy secondary, and will have to show off his open field tackling ability to beat out his competition.
Tavarus Dantzler, Inside Linebacker, Bethune-Cookman - 6'2'' 240 lbs. (#57)
Dantzler wasn't a highly touted prospect out of high school despite his few local recognitions. He didn't see major playing time until his sophomore year, when he played in 11 of 12 games recording 32 tackles. He started all 13 games in 2013 finishing fourth on the team in tackles with 47 and recording 2 forced fumbles. Dantzler made a name for himself in 2014 with 80 tackles, 8.5 TFL, and a sack for the Wildcats. He also talked to the Packers after his pro day about the inside linebacker position in the Packers' 3-4 defense. If there is a thin position on the Packers roster, it's at linebacker and that might be the chance Dantzler needs to make the squad.
Ladarius Gunter, Cornerback, Miami (Fl.) - 6'2'' 201 lbs. (#36)
Gunter was projected to go as high as the 4th round in the draft, so I'd say signing him as a free agent is a win for the Packers front office. Already drafting two players who have a shot to earn playing time right away, Gunter is looked at to be the "last man in" as far as making the team in the fall. Gunter played his first two seasons at Fort Scott Community College before transferring to Miami in 2012. That season he played in all 12 games, starting in 5 of them and making 27 tackles. His junior season was his best season with the Hurricanes as he started in 12 games, recording 46 tackles and 3 interceptions. He had a bit of a let down in 2014 but his size at the corner position is something the Packers have not had the fortune to have in recent years.
Lavon Hooks, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi - 6'3'' 312 lbs. (#78)
Hooks played two seasons at Northeast Mississippi Community College and earned himself the #1 JUCO defensive tackle and #1 JUCO player in the state of Mississippi. He did not get much playing time his first season at Ole Miss in 2013 appearing in 12 games with only 2 starts. In that time frame he recorded 10 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, and a sack. His 2014 season was not much more impressive, never being named a full time starter, as he managed 17 tackles and 2 sacks. Hooks will have to rely on his size and his ability to clog up running lanes to get noticed.
Jermauria Rasco, Outside Linebacker, LSU - 6'3'' 252 lbs. (#59)
Rasco was a five-star recruit and ranked as the #8 defensive end by Scout coming out of high school and got playing time right away as a freshman at LSU, playing in 9 games and recording 2 sacks. He started all 13 games for the Tigers in 2013 posting 56 tackles, 6.5 TFL, and 4 sacks making himself a staple on the LSU defensive line for 2014. Rasco ended his Tiger career with 71 tackles and 4 sacks as a senior, and will most likely be making the transition to outside linebacker for the Packers this summer.
James Vaughters, Outside Linebacker, Stanford - 6'2'' 254 lbs. (#43)
Vaughters came out of high school a four-star prospect, and 44th on ESPN's Top 150, and played mostly special teams as a freshman for the Cardinal, and then transitioned to inside linebacker for his sophomore season, posting 18 tackles and 1 sack in 14 games. He became a full-time starter his junior season in 2013, recording 36 tackles and 4 sacks, and then in 2014 he played himself into the Butkus Award watch list as well as the All-Pac 12 third team by making 51 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Vaughters is looked at as another guy that is capable of making the roster and adding depth to the linebacking corps.